WASHINGTON The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced an agreement with ASM Lithography (Einhoven, Netherlands) that would allow the company to participate in the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography development effort now underway in Livermore, Calif.
The agreement resolves the conflicting issues of how to bring ASM Lithography (ASML) into EUV Limited Liability Corp., a consortium of three U.S.-based semiconductor manufacturers, U.S.-based lithography vendors, and researchers from three DOE national labs. The consortium has been working to bring EUV lithography to the market by 2006 or sooner, when 70-nanometer (0.07-micron) design rules are expected to be required. The agreement includes quid pro quo commitments designed to quiet critics who had charged that the participation of a foreign supplier in EUV LLC would consistute a giveaway of intellectual property developed at the DOE's national laboratories.
U.S. Undersecretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said, "if the EUV technology proves viable, ASML has agreed to build a factory in the U.S., similar to its Netherlands facility, as well as to establish an American research and development center. The factory will supply 100 percent of all ASML's sales in the United States."
ASML agreed that 55 percent of the components used in its commercial EUV systems sold in the United States would be sourced from U.S.-based suppliers, which Moniz said will keep high-paying jobs in the United States.
Minoz said ASML has "agreed to help facilitate periodic reviews among the Euclides EUV program members and U.S. manufacturers." Euclides is a Europe-based research effort supported by the European Community and based primarily at ASML's R&D facilities in Eindhoven. "Collaborative participation on a pre-competitive basis among these leading lithography tool suppliers is the best approach for strengthening the overall technology and assuring its international acceptance," Minoz said.
Jim Glaze, executive director of the virtual national laboratory comprised of researchers from the Lawrence Livermore, Sandia, and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories said the agreement "is a necessary step to achieving international acceptance" of EUV technology. U.S. researchers from the virtual national lab, as well as from the commercial partners within EUV LLC, will be able to share information with the Euclides research effort into EUV.
"A lot of people have been working very hard over the last few months to work out this agreement," Glaze said. "It formalizes an affiliation between Euclides and the EUV LLC."
Intel Corp., one of the three semiconductor vendors in EUV LLC, had sought the participation of non-U.S. lithography vendors in the consortium, an Intel spokesman said. Motorola Inc. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. are the other two semiconductor suppliers. On the lithography front, Silicon Valley Group Lithography (San Jose, Calif.), as well as the USAL subsidiary of Ultratech Stepper Inc. (San Jose), are current participants in EUV LLC.
ASML is roughly the same size as Canon Inc. in the lithography business, and Nikon Corp. is considered the world's largest supplier of lithography systems. Glaze noted that the three semiconductor vendors now participating in the EUV LLC all operate fabs overseas and had sought a broader base of lithography suppliers within EUV LLC. The three chip makers are seeking additional participants from industry to share the efforts's development costs, Glaze said.
At a Next Generation Lithography Workshop, held last December in Colorado, a vote of the workshop's 110 participants gave the EUV approach the highest rating as the preferred next-generation lithography solution at the "70 nanometer node" and beyond.
EUV LLC is expected to complete its first prototype lithography demonstration platform in the second half of next year. Commercialization is estimated to require in excess of $600 million in EUV LLC investment over the next five years.